Power, Sex, Suicide

Power, Sex, Suicide

Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life

Book - 2005
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Baker & Taylor
The latest research on the nature and function of mitochondria is shared in a study that examines how complex life evolved, why sex arose, and why humans age and die.

Oxford University Press
If it weren't for mitochondria, scientists argue, we'd all still be single-celled bacteria. Indeed, these tiny structures inside our cells are important beyond imagining. Without mitochondria, we would have no cell suicide, no sculpting of embryonic shape, no sexes, no menopause, no aging.
In this fascinating and thought-provoking book, Nick Lane brings together the latest research in this exciting field to show how our growing insight into mitochondria has shed light on how complex life evolved, why sex arose (why don't we just bud?), and why we age and die. These findings are of fundamental importance, both in understanding life on Earth, but also in controlling our own illnesses, and delaying our degeneration and death. Readers learn that two billion years ago, mitochondria were probably bacteria living independent lives and that their capture within larger cells was a turning point in the evolution of life, enabling the development of complex organisms. Lane describes how mitochondria have their own DNA and that its genes mutate much faster than those in the nucleus. This high mutation rate lies behind our aging and certain congenital diseases. The latest research suggests that mitochondria play a key role in degenerative diseases such as cancer. We also discover that mitochondrial DNA is passed down almost exclusively via the female line. That's why it has been used by some researchers to trace human ancestry daughter-to-mother, to "Mitochondrial Eve," giving us vital information about our evolutionary history.
Written by Nick Lane, a rising star in popular science, Power, Sex, Suicide is the first book for general readers on the nature and function of these tiny, yet fascinating structures.

Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2005
ISBN: 9780192804815
Characteristics: xiii, 354 p. : ill. ; 24 cm

Related Resources


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jul 04, 2011

Ahem! The previous reviewer was obviously as awestruck and enlightened as I by this incredibly insightful book. I'm a biologist but don't deal with this cellular stuff to any great extent--more so at the ecological level. But every once in while, one comes across a nugget of information that just fits like a long-sought jigsaw puzzle piece. In this book, you get all the corners and edges of the puzzle, too. I was totally absorbed by this book, from the scope of topics to the depth and accessibility of technical evidence. Well done! I learned more pertinent facts about cell physiology and microbiology and multicellular evolution than I've ever been previously exposed to. I can't say my cellular paradigm has shifted cuz I don't think I ever had one. But these lines of research, presented in such an integrated manner has given me real insights into cell evolution and much to ponder as I now peruse cellular advancements in the science press.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at DCPL

To Top